Where will your gap year take you?

Once upon a time someone dreamt of a scheme where students would spend a year between school and university discovering more about themselves and the world around them. JAGS pupils have seized these gap years with relish which have taken them in so many directions. The 2015 leavers are a case in point: some won coveted places on one-year courses at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Academy of Contemporary Music; also on Art, Media and Design Foundation courses at the Royal Drawing School, at the London College of Communication and at Camberwell, Kingston and Ravensbourne Colleges of Art. We applaud others who won internships in global companies, or got involved in conservation projects, making a difference to the wider community, for example.

Travelling certainly broadens the horizons. Imagine then our pleasure in hearing the good news that Y13 Hattie Seymour has been awarded an amazing scholarship to the US for the next academic year before she goes to Downing College, Cambridge to read Geography in 2017. She will be the Pomona-Downing Scholar, accepted by Pomona College, an American Liberal Arts College in Claremont, California for a fully-funded pre-university year, with all travel and agreed living expenses paid for from the Wilson Endowment. Hattie can’t wait. “I love California! Not only for its diverse geography, but also for its climate!” Hattie will be able to pursue her outdoor interests in wonderful weather.

She’ll be living on campus, taking part in all the extra-curricular activities. There’ll be time to go to the beach, perhaps with her new, American roommate. What a wonderful opportunity to be plunged into American culture for the year. The Pomona-Downing Scholar has the status of a second-year student at Pomona and takes the normal number of four separate courses per semester, helping to broaden the range of options subsequently available at Cambridge. Hattie says she’d like to continue her study of Drama and to start a new language – maybe Spanish, with a trip to Mexico in mind.

We applaud such initiatives. It’s good to see younger girls seeking out such opportunities to broaden their perspective. Y11 Annie Sheriff is waiting to hear whether she’s been accepted on a summer study programme at Yale University. Young Yale Global Scholars, selected from outstanding applicants, live on campus for two weeks and can study technology, innovation and entrepreneurship amongst other things. Does Politics, Law and Economics appeal? International affairs and security? Applied Science and Engineering? Look at the website

Even if you don’t know which direction your career path might lead, it’s good to use such opportunities as a platform from which to launch. Those Y16 leavers who are planning gap years – and about half the year group will be - are taking that on board.